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Tuesday, August 7, 1990

Newspaper feature article on my fitness class

Published in the Arkansas Gazette August 7,1990
written by Karen Knutson

It was an afternoon in early June, the first day of a new weight training class at the downtown YMCA.

A dozen enrollees, ranging in age from 14 to 40-plus huddled in the second floor gym, exchanging lame wisecracks and fretting the instructor may be too gung ho for their abilities. 

"He's probably got the personality of the Terminator" grumbled one of the group. 

They worried in vain. Although Lance Miller, the YMCA's weight training instructor, physically resembles a streamlined Arnold Schwarzenegger, he's not a cold-hearted automaton about his job. Instead his good-natured enthusiasm serves as a motivator for the class members, who have discovered weight training, like most forms of fitness, can be big fun.

"I've had a keen interest in weight training since getting my first weight set at 16.", Miller, 28, said.
"I got pretty well by the time I was 20. Then I worked at a few jobs where I couldn't get to a gym, and got away from weight training. Just last February I joined the Y and got back into it."

And in June, he began to get others into it with the Y's Way to Strength Training, which meets from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at the facility, located at 524 Broadway.

The idea came about, he said "when I was casually showing a guy how to do some exercises one day in the weight room one day, and a woman walked up to me and thanked me for showing the guy, who was her husband, how to do it right. It turned out she was Sue Ball, the Y's associate executive director. " 

They got to talking "and she asked if I wanted to start a strength training class, I told yes but I wanted to do it right." 

"I was impressed with how Lance worked with people in an nonintimidating way." Ball said. "He likes to stay up to date on the latest information in weight training. He's really interested, really knowledgeable, and he seemed like a good person to start this class for us. I'm always looking for new programs for the Y and this just sort of fell into place."

Miller feels that weight training is the most integral part of any fitness program.

"The distinction is it's well balanced." he said "Running, baling hay or playing football are all good for you, but you can't be sure that you're working all the major muscle groups. With a well-balanced, well-educated approach to weight training you can be sure."

The class at the Y is free for members, and $35 for others, and newcomers can join at any time.

"The nature of the class is to provide instruction for members that might have needed guidance, then they do their workout at there own times that are convenient for them." Miller said.

"On the other hand the class is there for them if they need ongoing guidance and motivation." he said. "Of the 12 that  have joined, about half have gone off and are doing the program we teach on their own."

"I started because I wanted to learn the proper way to use the machines," said Kay Barnhill, a member of the class, "But the main attraction of the class was the fact that you could participate, or you could learn it and go off and do it on your own."

Having a full time job, children and a husband, Barnhill maintains a busy schedule.

"There are days I can't make it to the class at 5:30, but I can come at noon and do my workout."  she says "you can't do that with an aerobics class."

The hour long workout uses Nautilus machines and free weights. It starts with large muscle groups and ends with smaller muscle groups. Class members can lift, pull and push their way through the program every day if they want to, but Miller says that every other day is probably the most productive schedule for toning muscles.

Around three-fourths of the class members are women.

"I wasn't surprised by that, because from the outset there were plenty of women asking about it." he said.

"I have been a little surprised by their enthusiasm, how they don't shirk away from doing the harder exercises." Miller continued. "If they had started emphasizing they only wanted to work on this or that body part, it would have held things up. I pretty much held the standard on it. I wasn't going to have people just working on their abdominals in here."

Barnhill said not only has the the class helped improve her overall muscle tone, she's a better runner as well.

"I attribute a lot of that to the class, because Lance showed me a lot of weight-training exercises that would help with my running." she said "I love it, Lance is great, he's so unintimidating, I'm real comfortable with him, and so is the rest of the class."

"This is just my opinion, but I think women like to be involved in programmed fitness activities, to do things in a group." Ball said.

"And for those that don't want to do things with a group, we are working on a personal training program." she explained "we don't have all the details ironed out yet, but it will probably be a system
in which you can buy passes for a half hour of personal training with Lance at a time good for both."